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Nevada’s Anti-Tobacco Efforts Face New Challenges 50 Years After Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking

01 January, 2014

Today the U.S. Surgeon General released a 1,000 page report that highlights five decades of progress in tobacco control and prevention, presents new data on the health consequences of tobacco use, and unveils initiatives that can potentially end the tobacco use epidemic in the United States. Part of the release includes a new goal by the Surgeon General to reduce the national percentage of youth and adult smokers to 10 percent or less within 10 years and to extend indoor smoke-free protection to 100% of Americans.  The report comes days after the 50th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health first linking smoking and lung cancer.

“Since the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking in 1964, we have made considerable progress as a state and nation in reducing the toll of tobacco on the public’s health,” says John Packham, director of Health Policy Research at the University of Nevada School of Medicine and past president of the Nevada Public Health Association. “The new report provides a renewed call to action to finally end the epidemic of disease and death caused by tobacco.”

Allison Newlon Moser, president of the Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition, agrees. “This new report can only serve to galvanize the non-profits, coalitions and other health organizations that have spent years working to make Nevada tobacco-free. And it demonstrates the importance of Nevada’s anti-tobacco programs, ranging from youth education and prevention, indoor smoking bans like the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act, and free cessation services such as the Nevada Tobacco Users Helpline at 1-800-QUITNOW.”

Tobacco Control in Nevada

  • In Nevada the number of adult smokers has steadily declined in recent years, from 31.5 percent in 1999 to 20.5 percent in 2011-2012, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).
  • In 2006 Nevada voters approved the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act (NCIAA) providing substantial changes to smoking laws to protect children and adults from secondhand smoke in most public places and indoor workplaces. The statute was revised in 2011 to allow smoking in bars, taverns and saloons where patrons under 21 are prohibited.
  • Three years after implementation of the NCIAA a poll revealed that 72 percent of Nevada voters approved of the current smoke-free law and that 23 percent of those voters wish the law had gone further. A second poll, conducted in 2011 by FM3, indicates that 83 percent of Nevadans agree that all workers should be protected from secondhand smoke in the workplace. Currently grassroots coalitions are working towards smoke-free communities statewide.
  • Nevada lags behind much of the nation in state cigarette excise tax rates, adding just 80 cents per pack. The national average tax rate per pack is $1.51.
  • Washoe County has developed a list of smoke-free meeting venues throughout the county and extending to Carson City and Virginia City. The Smoke Free Meetings campaign also encourages businesses and organizations to commit to a smoke-free meetings policy.

Smoking and the Cancer Burden in Nevada

  • Smoking causes 90 percent of cases of lung cancer either through smoking directly or secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Nevada, and more significantly, lung cancer claims the lives of more Nevadans than breast, colorectal and prostate cancers combined.
  • According to the most recent data from the CDC (2011-2012), 20.5 percent of adults in Nevada were current smokers. That’s slightly higher than the national rate of 20.4 percent.
  • Smoking rates in Nevada vary widely from county to county. The lowest reported rates are in Storey County with 7.4 percent of adults as current smokers, and the highest rates are in Pershing County with 40.3 percent of adults as current smokers. (View the infographics.)
  • In Nevada from 2006 to 2010, 46 percent of cancers were tobacco-related and 21.3 percent of deaths were due to tobacco-related illnesses.  The estimated costs billed for hospitalizations for tobacco-related illnesses in Nevada in 2012 is more than $2.9 billion. (View the infographics.)

National Successes

  • Nationwide the smoking rate for adults has seen a 58 percent decline since the release of the 1964 U.S. Surgeon General’s report from a high of more than 42 percent of adults smoking, according to the National Health Interview Survey.
  • A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the rate of new lung cancer cases dropped 2.6 percent per year for men and 1.1 percent per year for women from 2005 to 2009. The fastest drop in new lung cancer cases was among adults aged 35 – 44 with a 6.5 percent decrease per year among men and 5.8 percent decrease per year among women.
  • The past two decades have seen tremendous growth in the number of smoke-free communities and workplaces. In 1996 just seven communities had comprehensive smoke-free laws, yet in 2014 that has grown to encompass nearly half of the nation with 24 states and hundreds of communities going smoke-free.
  • The average tax on cigarettes, combining federal excise taxes and average state taxes, has increased by nearly 350 percent over the past two decades.

Resources in Nevada

There are a number of organizations working in tobacco prevention and cessation as well as policy reform in Nevada as well as nationally. The list below is provided by Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition:

Activism & Advocacy
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American Heart Association
American Legacy Foundation
American Lung Association
Americans for Non Smokers Rights
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids 
Smoke-free Vegas

Smoke Free Movies
Truth Campaign
World Health Organization

Nevada Tobacco Users Helpline 1-800-QUIT-NOW
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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